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Physical map of mouse genome now available

St. Louis, August 4, 2002 -- A physical map of the genetic makeup of a mouse--the mouse genome--is 98 percent complete and is being released online by the journal Nature. Researchers at the Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis played a major role in the international effort, as they did in the sequencing and mapping of the human genome.

"The mouse plays a vital role in research on human biology and disease," says John D. McPherson, Ph.D., associate professor of genetics and the lead investigator on the St. Louis team. "This physical map gives us the big picture of the mouse genome. It will be tremendously helpful to medical investigators and to those studying the human genome."

Comparison of the mouse and human maps, for example, can highlight regions of DNA that control genes. These regions are crucial to understanding the role of genes in health and disease, but they are difficult to find using current methods.

The physical mouse-genome map is a complementary effort to the draft sequence of the mouse genome, which was released last May. The important difference is one of detail and organization, says McPherson.

The draft sequence is a description of the chemical bases--represented by A, C, G, and T--that make up the genome. The physical map organizes and delineates this information on the mouse's 20 chromosomes. McPherson compared the draft sequence to loose pages from an encyclopedia. The pages may provide a lot of information, but they lack context.

"Each page may provide many details," he says, "like the population and climate of a country. But until all the pages are assembled correctly, you may not know that you are reading about Zaire." A physical map places all the "pages" of DNA sequence in their correct order within each volume, with each volume being a chromosome.

Furthermore, the DNA-sequence information used to compile the physical map was gathered diffe
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Contact: Darrell Ward
wardd@msnotes.wustl.edu
314-286-0122
Washington University School of Medicine
4-Aug-2002


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